With the incoming Trump administration and its narrative of trying to solve the problems of the future with the solutions of the past, we’re taking the opportunity to reflect on four focus areas for future-minded leadership that inspired us at the recent Crowd forum event on Digital Society and how we are incorporating them into our mission.

Ways of working in 2017 are almost unrecognisable from even 25 years ago. Today, most offices grind to a halt without the internet (we had to pack everyone off home to work during the High Holborn street repairs last year) and the thought of your important communication taking a day or two to get to its recipient is laughable.

Technology and the new digital age have played a huge role in shaping the working methods and even the jobs available in the 21st century - our political and business leaders need to be at the forefront of this continuing movement.

In the 2015 McKinsey study ‘Four fundamentals of workplace occupation' , it was revealed that 45% of workplace activities can be automated by adapting existing technologies. So, without even thinking of future innovations, almost half of working activities could already be replaced by machines. It’s a compelling call for a change in outlook. To meet this challenge in a time when trust is at an all-time low, leadership needs to be visionary and future-facing.


Four focus areas for future-minded leadership:

The value of skilling and re-skilling

• In a world of fast-paced technological change, where people need to re-learn new systems and processes over their lifetime, traditional skills such as problem solving, collaboration, engineering, maths and language skills are highly prized. A future-minded leader will recognise the value of these skills in a workforce able to respond to new challenges with resilience and innovation. As such, our youth programmes focus on open ended challenges, sharing the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ but not spelling out the ‘how’ – inspiring them to come up with creative local solutions to environmental problems.

Entrepreneurial mindset

• Organisations need self-reliant workers who have vision, who can find their own solutions rather than expecting institutions to offer them. A future-minded leader will seek out employees who ask questions, challenge processes and offer fresh perspectives. Through our Catalyst programme we are training up 30 NEETs a year to be insatiably curious and just a little bit demanding about what businesses should be doing to protect our resources and benefit society.

Digital infrastructure

• The digital world offers us huge opportunities; instant virtual collaboration across continents, sharing messages with millions in real time via social media, accessing content such as books, films and music without physically owning them and the remote control of our houses (and lives) through the internet of things….to name a few. Investment in and maintenance of a robust digital infrastructure is key for any future-minded leader. At GAP we manage all our time, projects and team communications through online platforms and our mobiles double up as our landlines – this means we can work from anywhere (internet depending!) and really limit the amount of paper and other office kit we need.

Information protection and control

• With so much of our lives, work and data now online, we have to be vigilant in protecting it. Ensuring data security is important in terms of complying with the law and building trust with your stakeholders, so should be a priority for future-minded leaders. Data protection is even more important when involving vulnerable groups - which is why we make sure that all the data from young people in our programmes is not only anonymised but fiercely guarded by our web team and the office dog!

The world is changing all the time, so we need people who can respond to that change positively and think in a visionary way. Find out how you can support our youth programmes and help give our next generation of leaders the values and skills they need to work and live sustainably, and the confidence to transform our world.